I’ve never been into Pinterest. A friend of mine asked me once if she could ‘pin’ a photo I took, and apparently it got repinned and hearted or something a few times. I went to look at it, and lo and behold! my picture! Next to a bunch of other pictures! Um…Okay! I look at Pinterest the same way I look at Instagram: If I see a pic directly linked, I’ll look at it, but otherwise, I’m not going to pour over it like it was the Sunday NYT. (Instagram also gets shade from me for intentionally making photos look shitty. Why in God’s name should I own a £400 phone just to slap filters over my pictures so it looks like I took them on a disposable camera that was stuck in the back shelf of a car for an entire summer? Makes no sense).
Imagine my dismay then when I read a Today Show survey in which 7000 Pinners were asked about Pinterest, and 42% reported being stressed out by the pretty pictures, worried that their efforts didn’t measure up. Oy vey. People, I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret about some of the blogs those Pinterest accounts come from, a secret that I know because I’ve helped in their duplicity:
They aren’t real. Like, at all.
Just as Martha Stewart doesn’t actually bake every apple tart she presents with that Mid-Atlantic-bored-in-the-Hamptons drone to her fabulously disaffected friends on the dock of their sprawling estate, a lot, and I mean A LOT of your favourite bloggers figured out that if they wanted to be ‘sponsored’ (read, paid to blog), they needed a team to create their online empire.
Without further ado, here’s a 4 second primer on how you can make money online blogging:
Google Adsense. Pageviews and clickthroughs equal money in your pocket.
Product reviews and giveaways. Companies pay you in product or cash to review their products, and sponsor giveaways on your blog.
Blog sponsorship or partnership. A company ‘proudly presents’ your blog. They have exclusive control usually of all advertising, and ‘guide’ content.
The more money a company puts in, the more on message you need to be. Google Adsense? As long as you aren’t breaking the law, they’ll host ads on your site. Blog sponsorship? You may want to avoid that explicative filled rant about the Pope.
But where do people like I come in? My side job from raising a kid and my MBA is I am a private social media consultant. I sit down with very discreet people, and create social media plans for them. Everything from perfectly timed posts (hit 12.30 for your target market timezone M-F, with a short update around 4.30, people tend to check their online stuff right before they leave for work!) to twitter (5 posts a day at intervals, 3 of them linking to other higher-ranked twitterers, one linking back to your site, and one of plain text!), to facebook (dying quickly – are you on tumblr yet? That’s where most of the fb deserters 16-24 are! Hit your demographics!). For a small fee, I even schedule and administer these functions, making you look effortless as your perfectly pressed napkin sunflowers. And I’m not the only one – from freelance photogs who come in and shoot an entire years of blog pics over a weekend, to the web designer who makes sure your follow buttons are the perfect shade of cornflower blue, there is a whole cottage industry revolving around making someone’s high ranking blog look like a one superwoman show.
This is not to say that all bloggers who make money off this stuff are liars. Far from it. I know many a blogger who are that adept with an icing bag and white box for photography, and really do make it look very easy. They are incredibly well organized, and tend to be stay at home parents/spouses. They are not getting home from work at 7 pm to a house that hasn’t been touched since 7.30 that morning, this is what they do pretty much 24/7.
You are not them.
Blogging is the same as any other form of commerce – marketing is involved. Theatricality is employed, white lies are told, and people buy into it. The Wizard of Oz is usually nothing more than a little old man with a lot of machinery. (I even know one popular ‘mommy’ blogger who isn’t a mommy – those are her nieces and nephews!) Ansoff’s Matrix is alive and well in the digital world. Comparing your stuff to the images on Pinterest is as useless as comparing your beef bourguignon to Anthony Bourdain’s…it’s not a fair fight. For some ungodly reason, we’ve gotten it into our heads to take our ‘keeping up with the Jonses’ out of the real world and into the world of literally ephemera. If you take nothing else away, please know…
This? This isn’t real. This is a collection of data packets. Don’t compare yourself to a gaggle of 1′s and o’s. You are better than that.